What was for supper last week? Vol. 137: Ah’m a-splurgin’!

It was vacation week! We ate like kings!

SATURDAY
Steak and lobster

We had a lot of kid activities planned, so Damien wanted to make sure we had one fine grown-up meal. (The kids had hot dogs and chips at home.) He packed up a cooler and we went here:

We swam for a while, with nobody else in the entire pond except for some loons and a bunch of amorous dragonflies. Then he made a fire and we had bread and cheese, strawberries and blackberries while the flames died down.

He put some steaks and lobsters over the coals:

The lobster only needed a few minutes on each side, and we ate it with herbed butter and lemons while the steaks finished cooking. I’ve never had grilled lobster before. The sweet flesh with a smoky edge is completely wonderful. The steak had a simple rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and came out insanely tender with lots of juice.

 

Also, having visible cooking marks on the lobster really helps me get over that last psychological “you are cracking apart and devouring an entire creature here, you psychopath” obstacle. It just looks more like food. Score another point for charring your food! I’ll take my charred lobster cancer like a man.

We also brought some peaches to grill (most desserts are out for me because they are migraine triggers), but we were both stuffed to the gills and couldn’t eat any more.

And that is how you kick off vacation week!

SUNDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, fries, cherries

One of my kids has a job in a deli, and she’d been hungrily eyeing their buffalo chicken salad. I couldn’t find an exact recipe, but since she had never actually tasted it, I didn’t think I could really get it wrong.

I cooked a few pounds of pasta (I believe it was radiatori. Here is a nice guide to pasta shapes), then I took 3 large chicken breasts and put them in the Instant Pot with a cup of water, high pressure for 7 minutes. I cut the cooked chicken into chunks and mixed it together with the pasta and:

4 stalks celery diced
3/4 cup sour cream
10 oz blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
2 Tbs paprika
It was pretty good. Not knock-your-socks-off, but if you like buffalo sauce, it’s something a little different, and it sure was easy to make. It’s supposed to have carrots, but I don’t think that would have added much (but you definitely want the celery in there, for texture and to cool your tongue from the hot sauce). I also made plain pasta, which is what most of the kids ate, which is why there was enough left over for me to eat lunch all week.
I hadn’t really planned out any sides. I have a hard time coming up with sides to pasta salads. It’s like when my grandmother went to the pet store asking for food for her daughter’s Sea Monkeys, and the man said, “Lady, Sea Monkeys are food.” So I ended up with a kind of self-inflicted one-family potluck meal of buffalo chicken salad, french fries, and cherries. Well, they ate it!
MONDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

Now this was a good idea. I had more chicken breasts (I guess they must have been on sale), so I roasted them under the broiler with salt and pepper, then sliced them. Then we laid out chicken, sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and let people build their own sandwiches.

I also put out some mayonnaise and pesto sauce, but I didn’t end up using it. This was an extremely tasty summer sandwich, very fresh and pleasant and filling. I should have used Italian bread instead of Kaiser rolls, was the only thing. Next time!

TUESDAY
Ocean!

Tuesday was ocean day. New Hampshire really only has one beach, about two hours from us, and it’s terribly trashy at night, but gorgeous during the day. We brought along subs, nectarines, chips, and cookies from the supermarket for lunch, and managed to eat most of it before the very bold seagulls had their way with it. I love the ocean.

It was a completely wonderful day. We didn’t bring any shovels or buckets or kites or floaties or anything. Just played in the cold waves and the fresh breeze and the glittering sun for hours and hours. Irene got lost and we, um, forgot to bring Lucy’s insulin. But the lifeguards found Irene again and Damien squeezed some insulin out of a local pharmacy and it was still fun. I love the ocean.

For dinner, I had my heart set on eating somewhere that served food in plastic baskets and had sand in the bathroom, so that’s what we did. It was called Swampy’s Sea Shack or Chunko’s Squid Hut or something along those lines. There were a bunch of drunken louts singing “Sweet Caroline” over their beers. I had the calamari platter. The coleslaw was terrible. I love the ocean.

WEDNESDAY
Deconstructed shish kabob; pineapple cucumber salad; Tweezlaires

I took a big hunk of pork and cut it into big cubes and mixed it up with wedges of red onion and green pepper. I had mushrooms, too, but they had gotten all slimy, alas. I stirred it up with a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and let it sit for a few hours.

We briefly considered putting the food on skewers and grilling it outside, but we were still exhaustipated from the beach, so I just spread the meat and veggies in a shallow pan and put it under the broiler until it was a little blackened. Good stuff.

Again I needed a side dish, but hadn’t made solid plans. My friend Jennifer suggested this pineapple cucumber salad, which calls for pineapple and cucumber, which I had, and lime zest and fresh cilantro, which I didn’t. So I used bottled lime juice and chili lime seasoning. It was nice! Just something different. May try again when I have cilantro.

We also had Tweezlaires, because that’s what I told the kids we were having before I found the pineapple recipe.

THURSDAY
Bibimbap

Oh son. If you haven’t made bibimbap, then this is your time. It is absolutely the party that your mouth deserves to have.

I sliced up some pork as thin as I could and set it to marinate in gochujang sauce, which I made with gochujang, honey, sugar, garlic, and soy sauce (proportions here).

I also sliced up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers very thin with the wide end of a cheese grater, because someone has absconded with the spindle part of my food processor. I set them to pickle in water with some white vinegar and sugar mixed in.

I made a ton of rice in the Instant Pot. It comes out good and sticky when you use the 1:1 method. When the rice was almost done, I fried up the meat in a skillet, and sliced and sauteed some mushrooms.

Then, when the rice was done, everyone put some in a bowl, and piled on their choice of pork, pickled vegetables, pea sprouts, and mushrooms, with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and wasabi sauce. And then a fricken fried egg on top. It’s so good. The various juices trickle down through the rice and you just have to focus on not passing out with joy before you get to the bottom.

FRIDAY
Canobie Lake Park!

Friday was our long-awaited trip to the excellent amusement park that’s a couple of hours away. We went with the Girl Scouts, who picked up a big part of the tab, so we splurged on actual park food for lunch, and then we had monstrous ice cream sundaes around dinner time.

We stayed eleven hours. Would have been longer, but there came a crashing, thundering downpour and they had to close the park and evacuate everyone. We made our way to Papa Ginos. I don’t care what you say, it’s really quite good pizza. Also, we only ever seem to eat there when we are wet, exhausted, and completely starving. But I still think it’s good pizza!

And that’s what we did on our summer vacation.

What’s for supper? Vol. 119: It is almost March.

Well, it’s February and everything is terrible. That’s my excuse for letting things languish around here. Someone spilled something on my computer again, and the quick and easy warranty process only took eleven steps and nine years to complete. Everyone is throwing up. Corrie is hallucinating sad gazebos in the heating vent, and won’t drink Pedialyte or breast milk, only tonic water (Schweppes). If I were in charge of the liturgical calendar, I would put Lent in a month where it wasn’t already so bloody obvious that everything will return dust, but what do I know. Anyway, soon it will be March. Right? Soon?

And, now that I have a computer again, we’ll have our podcasts up and running again asap. Thanks for your patience with that. We’ll also be transferring archives to iTunes and opening them up for non-subscribers, so stay tuned, you stay-tuners!

And now for the food.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers and chips

Husband makes good cheeseburgers.

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi, rice, spicy grilled pineapple

I’ve been thinking about banh mi forever, and the time was right. The recipe I used calls for beef, but pork is cheaper, and pork takes on more of the flavor. For this meal, I go around warning everyone that it smells like the Grim Reaper’s jock strap while it’s cooking, but the taste is really very good! This will demonstrate my marketing skills.

I took about four pounds of boneless pork loin, trimmed the fat, and sliced it as thin as I could. Then (this was actually Saturday night that I did this prep work) I put it in a ziplock bag with the marinade, which was:

2/3 cup fish sauce (this is where the “death crotch” smell comes in)
8 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs minced garlic
one onion, minced
a bunch of freshly-ground pepper

So this marinated about twenty hours in the fridge. I also pickled some vegetables ahead of time. I sliced about half a pound of carrots and two long, seedless cukes thin, and set them in jars with a mixture of water, white vinegar, and sugar. I wish I had added more sugar, and I kind of wish I had left the cukes unpickled. There were so many savory, spicy flavors, the sandwiches could have used more cooling.

Before dinner, I spread the meat and most of the marinade in a single layer and slid it right up under a very hot broiler. I turned the meat once so it got a little charred on the edges.

I toasted a bunch of sub rolls, and coarsely chopped a bunch of cilantro; and I mixed about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce into a cup of mayonnaise. I also set out plain mayo, and some jarred jalapeno slices.

Sublime sandwiches. Just the best. You line the bread with mayo, pack it with pork, then stuff the pickled vegetables in the sides, and sprinkle cilantro over the top. If you do the prep work the night before, this meal comes together in a very short time.

I also made a bunch of white rice in my Instant Pot (affiliate link. I’ll make a small commission if you click through and buy one!), using the 1:1 method. (I took five cups of rice and rinsed it clean in a colander, then put them in the IP with five cups of water. Close the top, close the vent, and press the “rice” button. It automatically sets the time, and this rice comes out springy and a little sticky, which is how I prefer it for asian meals.)

The pineapple was pretty good, not excellent. I’ll try again in the summer, when we can use a real outdoor grill. I sliced two pineapples (does everyone know the easy way to process fresh pineapple?) into long spears, then tossed them with a sweet, spicy sauce made of 3/4 of a stick of melted butter, about half a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, and a little salt. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of butter, and maybe less honey.

I put them on a greased pan with drainage and put them up under the broiler while we were putting the sandwiches together. It took much longer than I expected for the pineapple to get singed — maybe twelve minutes, after I turned them once.

I liked the flavor a lot, and the slightly firey honey taste was a great accompaniment to the banh mi; but they got a little too soft during that cooking time. As I say, next time we’ll cook them over the coals. They were not bad cold the next day — almost candy-like. Weird, juicy candy.

The meal also made nice leftovers for lunch, with a bowl of rice topped with meat and veggies warmed up. Yum.

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pesto beer bread

I diced an onion and about five carrots, then put them in the IP with about a tablespoon of minced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used the saute setting until they were a little soft, then added about a pound-and-a-half of cubed beef. When the beef was brown, I pressed “cancel,” then added two small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a cup-and-a-half of red wine, and seven cups of beef broth. Then I added one of those little packets of mixed grains from Aldi, closed the lid, sealed the vent, and set it on high pressure for eleven minutes.

There is a “soup” button, but I’m too old to learn how to use it. Anyway, this turned out swell, and only got the one pot dirty. I left it on “stay warm” for the rest of the day.

I have had this little jar of pesto in the cabinet forever, so I decided to add it to this good old reliable beer bread recipe. I made two loaves. It was . . . okay. I guess I like pesto and I like beer bread, but they don’t do much for each other.

I mean, I ate it. I ate a lot of it.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos with guacamole, tortilla chips

Pretty guac, how I love thee. I could have eaten just guacamole for supper.  Four avocados coarsely chopped, about a cup of grape tomatoes, the juice of two limes, lots of salt, some chili powder and freshly-ground pepper, a few teaspoons of minced garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro. I only had jarred jalapenos, so I minced about 1/8 cup of them, and it worked out fine. I forgot onions, but didn’t really miss them. Zippy and good.

GUAC PIC

We also had shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges with frozen fish and flour tortillas.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, tater tots

This was when the throwing really gathered speed.

THURSDAY
Chicken and salad, fresh croutons

Not everyone was sick, so we still needed food. I just doused the chicken in Italian salad dressing and shoved it under the broiler, sliced it, and served it with some bagged salad mix.

CHICKEN SALAD PIC

We had tons of bread left over from this and that, so I cut up a bunch of it into cubes, mixed it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder, and put it in a pan in a 300 oven for about forty minutes. Everybody likes croutons.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. We’ll see whose tummy is ready for that.

Oh, there was no food post last week, but I do have a few photos to share. The birthday girl went sledding with her friends, and then Elijah genially manned the hot chocolate bar when they got home.

Our hot chocolate recipe: For each mug of hot chocolate, you put into a heavy pot: one heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and two heaping tablespoons of sugar, and stir it up with a little water. You heat this paste until the sugar melts a bit, and then slowly add the milk, plus a little vanilla if you like. I made two crock pots’ worth of hot chocolate, and the guests could choose whipped cream, marshmallows, and rainbow sprinkles.

Decorations were just paper snowflakes on threads, but I liked how the cake turned out. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, then laid a paper snowflake on it and used one of those squeeze sifters (affiliate link) to sift powdered sugar over it. Then I carefully pulled the paper off. Ta dah!

It would have been lovely as is, but the birthday girl requested little candy balls, so we added those on the edge. This stencil technique is great if you want a complicated design but have shaky hands. Whatever design you want, google that + silhouette, then print it out and cut it out carefully. Then go ahead with the frosting and sugar as above. Very dramatic, and almost no skill required.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you, but now I forget. It is almost March, right?